14:35, UK, Saturday 28 October 2017
Catalonia’s disputed president Carles Puigdemont makes a television address
Catalonia’s disputed president Carles Puigdemont has urged Catalans to oppose Spain’s takeover of the region peacefully.
In a pre-recorded statement broadcast on regional channel TV3, Mr Puigdemont called for peaceful action and said that “we will continue working to build a free country.”
“It’s very clear that the best form of defending the gains made up until now is democratic opposition to article 155,” the disputed Catalonian president said.
Behind him hung the Catalonian flag and the flag of the European Union, but no Spanish flag.
At the same time as the pre-recorded statement was broadcast, national television channel La Sexta TV showed live footage of Mr Puigdemont having lunch in his hometown of Girona, where residents occasionally interrupted him for selfies.
His statement followed the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, dissolving Catalonia’s parliament after the region’s MPs declared independence.
European officials have condemned the declaration of independence, with EU president Jean-Claude Juncker saying “there isn’t room in Europe for other fractures or other cracks. We’ve had enough of those.”
Mr Juncker said the EU seeks “to respect the Spanish constitutional and legal order. We are not in favour of letting Europe develop so that tomorrow we’d have 95 member states. Twenty-eight is enough for now.”
Opponents of independence for Catalonia have meanwhile held a rally in Madrid, waving Spanish flags and draping them around their shoulders.
One of the organisers of the unionist demonstration in Madrid, 41-year-old Santiago Abascal, who leads the right-wing Vox party, condemned Mr Puigdemont, saying: “I believe the laws must be respected.”
I think Puigdemont must serve a very long time in prison, probably for the rest of his life, because the crimes that he’s been committing ensures that a 50-year-old man like him doesn’t have many more options than spend the rest of his life in prison.
“The crimes are among the most serious in the penal code and Puigdemont should be condemned with severity,” Mr Abascal said. #beepraizblog